WRC Generations PC Review
WRC Generations is the last hurrah for French video game developer, Kylotonn. This is because the studio, which has worked on the series since WRC 5 (seven WRC games including this one) is no longer the licence holder after 2022. The licence is drifting over to EA and Codemasters, who will become the official developers for the game in 2023 and for at least the next five years. It is also an interesting transition for the motorsport, as 2022 signals the new hybrid era cars in the Rally1 regulations; the biggest shakeup to the sport for a generation…like what I did there? WRC Generations isn’t as revolutionary as the new sport’s regulations, rather the game is more of a “best of” collection of the last few games, mainly the big improvements that came with WRC 8 and all the content between that game and now, ending the series on a high note, but one that feels familiar for returning fans who have enjoyed the series over the last few years.
There is a lot of content in WRC Generations, probably the most in any title based on the motorsport. This game comes with 21 countries across 165 stages, including the 13 countries that take part in the 2022 WRC calendar. All this content does have a negative, as this is not fresh content, more updated to fit with the new visuals, so a lot of the courses are reused from older games, mainly WRC 7 up until WRC 10. This was the most efficient way for them to get as much content in and meet the release schedule. This does translate to a sense of déjà vu than a typical fresh new game release, because most players will have seen all these tracks before, apart from Sweden. This is because Sweden was redesigned with a new location, and so the game brings with it six new Sweden rally stages but does not retain the old Sweden rally from WRC 10. Even though the list includes places like New Zealand, Estonia, Belgium and Mexico, it is still missing some names that have featured in the series before, such as Australia, China and Poland. A huge shame, as they could have updated all the existing tracks from their games and have this be the ultimate celebration before the licence is revoked. We are told that no more content is coming in the future.
Kylotonn has developed a reputation for building brilliant rally stages in their WRC series, and since most of the content is coming across from older entries, this means WRC Generations brings along all these fantastic stages to drive on again. There is usually a mixture of short stages, lasting 4-6 minutes, but then each country has an epic stage, which is a combination of most elements of the small stages and creates one log track that can take around 13 plus minutes to finish. These epic stages are the true test of one’s skill, more so with variable weather turned on. The new Sweden location upholds this tradition, with some exhilarating open wide spaces that will max out the car’s speed on snowy long straights but require good reflexes on the narrow roads filled with towers of snow on the side. A simple mistake can be costly in these disastrous conditions.
All tracks can be driven at various times of day and with different weather conditions. The random conditions can make for some unexpected outcomes, such as having a rally begin in the sun and end in a complete thunderstorm, with the surface adjusting with puddles and shine from the increased water on the surface. This weather feature offers a change of approach for each rally stage, helping keep the variety, especially in the career/season modes where tracks will be reused, due to there being a few layouts per country. This won’t stop the repetitive nature for existing fans who play the series on each release, but newcomers are in for such a treat with this game and its huge track selection. Some of my favourites to drive around are the Japan Rally and New Zealand Rally, just for the sheer thrill of driving so fast down the tarmac in a lovely Japanese setting or the scary gravel track of New Zealand near cliff ends that are sure to end someone if the car falls over the edge into the valley below.
On the car side, WRC Generations offers over 40 rally cars that cover various eras of rally motorsport. The biggest addition is the new Rally1 spec cars, which are the Toyota GR Yaris, Hyundai i20n, and Ford Puma, each packed with hybrid technology which adds an additional weighty 100kW electric motor mixed with the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine to give these cars some extra acceleration boost. Breaking recharges the electrical energy, so it can be reused again for that added power. This translating into the video game is sadly not all that exciting, as the game manages this automatically, so the player has no real input on activating the stored energy. This is like the real WRC specification, but the engineers can personalise these maps to fit the stage and how the driver wants to use it. In WRC Generations, there are three maps, offering more acceleration, balanced and slower acceleration boost but less drain on the energy, but the game does not let the player customise these any further. I cannot see many people paying much attention to this, so will probably leave it on balance or full power and forget about this element for the new echelon of rally vehicles. The lower leagues do not feature hybrid technology, and so are traditional engines for the Polo, Fiesta, Fabia and C3 Rally2 cars, with the Junior WRC field only having the Fiesta.
While no separate anniversary or historic mode exists in WRC Generations (surely they could have returned it under the title “Generations”?), the classic cars make a return covering many eras of the sport, such as the Lancia Stratos, the Peugeot 205 T16 Evo 2, The Toyota Celica Turbo, the legendary Subaru Impreza WRC driven by Colin McRae, and even last year’s car, the Yaris WRC, making sure most categories get their fair share within the game. The handling overall is decent, and the different ground affects how the grip is portrayed; tarmac is extremely grippy, while dirt/gravel causes some sliding, and this comes across well in the handling to adapt and control how the car behaves.
Handling quality is very dependent on the car, as modern cars are good, but do feel more grounded and slower on the brakes due to the added weight. The legendary cars fluctuate with their handling, with some of the older ones feeling stiff and less responsive. This might be to simulate how they are in real life, but there is something slightly off with how it is in the game that takes a little adjusting to. While still on the topic of handling, a wheel and pedal set is the best way to play, and the force feedback within this does a decent enough job with feeding back the handling and sensation of the car, but it is not as detailed as some other racing simulators. Controllers, after a bit of tweaking, work well too, but I found using the default camera angle for the outside made reactions a little skittish, so preferred using either the bonnet or front cam for the best view and handling for driving.
Stages and cars are not the only things that remain mostly similar, the career mode, which received its first big revamp in WRC 8, remains eerily similar in WRC Generations. It is a solid career mode, so I can understand not wanting to disrupt this. The developers have altered some of the stupid challenges that made no sense to perform during a career, making them more for success and protecting the car rather than doing something that would hinder winning the rally, but it still is disappointing that nothing was tuned to make it even better. It still begins with joining either WRC Junior or WRC 2, with the latter offering the ability to create your own team without having to complete another mode to do so (woo!), then eventually joining the Rally1 echelon and trying to become the champion. The calendar still has events that cover training, challenges, extreme weather challenges and manufacturer try-outs, and the research and development are still there, now with a few extras due to the inclusion of hybrid engines. Overall, it feels like the career has hardly been touched apart from some revamped user interfaces and visuals, instead hoping all the included stages and cars help add to the once-refreshing career mode.
Single player modes outside of career consist of rallies, quick races and challenges, and the online remains similar and intact as well, such as having online races, and co-driver mode, which was initially patched in WRC 10. The newest inclusion is League. League is an area of online which can either involve single players or online teams that take part in daily and weekly events across a season to increase their rankings from beginner to legend. This is a neat way to add some worthwhile progress to the game’s online feature, which before was mainly racing others or beating competitors on the leaderboards.
Visuals have been given tweaks to look slightly better than WRC 10. New scaling options are included, such as Nvidia’s DLSS, with 3.0 recently patched in, which means that Nvidia reflex + boost can be combined for better frame rates and lower latencies. Running on an RTX 4090, the game running in native 4K at its maximum settings never saw it drop under 90fps, no matter the time of day or weather, so that gives a little space for weaker cards to run at 4K, more so if using some of the scaling options included. It is not the best-looking racing game, but the environments and car models are good enough to give the game some pleasing visuals. Sound has not seemingly progressed, with the cars sounding like last year’s game. It appears more to be the inside car camera view that does not quite share the same audio quality as the external replay mode. Some cars sound good, but others sound like they have been recorded from a hoover, a mixed bag depending on what type of car the player enjoys driving.
The loss of the licence for Kylotonn has translated into their final WRC game coming across like a send off for the development studio, collecting all the good work they have done over the years and compiling it into a “best of” collection. There is an insane amount of rally variety mixed with a satisfying weather system, a good selection of cars to drive and a solid, if now stale, career mode, while online brings with it new reasons to keep playing with League mode. It sure feels familiar for fans of WRC games, but newcomers will be overwhelmed with everything that is on offer here. This is the problem with having yearly releases, and this final entry for Kylotonn ends up being a good rally game, but one that reuses a lot of previous content. The series has grown and evolved over the years and WRC Generations is a pleasant look at the history and all the improvements the developers have made during its active career, leaving with us a rally game with some of the best stage designs ever conceived in the video game rally genre, but one which fans have mostly seen before.